Republicans like to position themselves as the people who protect the interests of workers in this country and state, despite voting repeatedly to gut worker protections, undermine their health care and diminish their right to act in their own interests. While many of them try to keep their views quiet or only share them in the warm confines of an ALEC-sponsored meeting, a few brave, dim souls try to defend their anti-worker views.
In an online discussion with the Montana AFL-CIO, Great Falls Representative Jeremy Trebas displayed a breathtaking ignorance about the importance of unions in Montana and the country. Defending a future of getting paid less than the minimum wage so that Sillicon Valley executives can make billions, Trebas opened with an argument for “more flexible strategy” before jumping into a full-fledged attack on the union movement in Montana, one that ignored the simple fact that the protections Trebas and the rest of us enjoy in the workplace are the result of unions.
Defending his support for right to work legislation, Trebas offered this insight:
Really? Because I’ve never worked for a union and I’ve always had adequate rights. There is plenty of Federal, State, and case law to protect workers.
Those protections, of course, exist because of unions. Overtime pay, sick leave, family medical leave, safety regulations, the minimum wage, the 40 hour work week? All because union members fought tirelessly for them. The Gig economy might serve the needs of a few, but the vast majoerity of workers in this country can thank the labor movement for humane working conditions and decent pay.
Then Trebas went completely off the rails, displaying an ignorance of federal law before contorting himself into defending the indefensible position that he would still support Right to Work legislation despite agreeing that what he was defending would be incredibly unfair to workers.
A quick scan of that exchange shows just how out of his element Representative Trebas was.
It should come as little surprise that Representative Trebas doesn’t have the interest of workers in mind. Who can forget that he voted against firefighters diagnosed with cancer after serving the public, legislation so obvious that 46 other states protect those first responders?
Or that he lied about it?
Republicans like Representative Trebas have every right to oppose workers, but they do have an obligation to inform themselves about the law and history of our state before voting.
And to tell the truth about their votes when they do.